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For those working directly for the government, you have union-set wages, by the hour, complete with benefits that include medical, vacation time, sick days, and a retirement plan. You're likely to work a five-day week with the potential for overtime since public works staff gets pressed into duty during snowfalls. Garbage truck drivers can also double as snowplow or sanding truck drivers. Overtime is paid accordingly.

Other areas prefer to let private enterprises collect the trash, which drives companies to compete for the jobs. In some cases, there are unwritten agreements that divide a town, granting a virtual monopoly to some companies. Some states have started fighting this practice, since increased competition means better collection prices for residents. Private firms charge a monthly fee, collecting the trash once a week and recyclables on a different day. One-man operations usually cover an entire town that is ignored by the larger firms.

Private firms generally pay slightly better than the government pays, but the benefits are not as good. Before applying, check your area and see what the options are.

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